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Classic Rock - The Bear
City of license WGFN: Glen Arbor, Michigan
WCKC: Cadillac, Michigan
Broadcast area WGFN: Traverse City, Michigan
WCKC: Cadillac, Michigan
Branding The Bear
Slogan Classic Rock
Frequency WGFN: 98.1 MHz
WCKC: 107.1 MHz
First air date WGFN: circa 1988
WCKC: unknown
Format Classic rock
ERP WGFN: 21,000 watts
WCKC: 2,750 watts
HAAT WGFN: 225 meters
WCKC: 147 meters
Class WGFN: C2
WCKC: KC Country
Former callsigns WGFN:
WMLB (10/12/88-5/22/92)
WQLZ (9/13/82-2/10/89)
WCBY-FM (?-9/13/82)
WYTW (2/1/85-9/24/91)
WITW (8/24/84-2/1/85)
Affiliations The Bob & Tom Show
Nights with Alice Cooper
Owner Northern Star Broadcasting
Sister stations WAVC, WCBY, WIDG, WJZJ, WLJZ, WMKC

WGFN is a group of two radio stations in northern Michigan that simulcast a classic rock format, with The Bob & Tom Show & Nights with Alice Cooper, called "The Bear". Those stations are:

Two other Michigan stations, 105.1 WGFM out of Cheboygan and 97.9 WIHC out of Newberry had previously been Bear simulcasts. WGFM became a partial simulcast of Glen Arbor modern rock station WJZJ ("Real Rock 105.1/95.5") in September 2009, while WIHC stopped broadcasting in February 2010 in the aftermath of a major radio purchase in the Sault-Ste. Marie-Newberry region.


Beginnings: W-Gold FM

In 1989, longtime northern Michigan radio personality and engineer Del Reynolds and wife Mary purchased 100,000 watt CHR WQLZ (formerly WCBY-FM) in Cheboygan. Shortly afterward, he changed the station's format to classic rock with the WGFM call letters, meaning "W-Gold-FM". The station's main focus was classic rock, but also played new cuts from classic rock artists as well. The station was live/local 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. and aired Westwood One's Adult Rock format overnights. Del was the station's morning man.

In the 1990s, Del's radio empire grew when he acquired many other local stations and built new ones as well. He purchased WIDG 940 in St. Ignace, MI and WCBY AM in Cheboygan the station that launched his career in the late 1960s. He purchased 98.1 WMLB Glen Arbor, and changed that to WGFN, giving WGFM a clearer signal in the Traverse City, MI area. He also took over 107.1 WCKC "Cadillac KC Country" Cadillac which was simulcasting his 102.9 WMKC "KC Country" St. Ignace, MI, but eventually changing to a WGFM simulcast.

The Bear Debuts

In 1998, Reynolds sold his stations to Calibre Communications for $7 million. As a result, the station would remain classic rock, but under a new moniker, The Bear, and Reynolds would leave the morning show host position. When Calibre asked Reynolds who should replace him, he suggested Bob and Tom. It was a wise decision on the station's part since they would pry album-oriented rock (AOR) stalwart WKLT from the Arbitron #2 spot all the way down to #5, while in many books, The Bear is in the top five. Bob and Tom - whose radio career started at WJML in the late 1970s - are now one of the most-popular morning shows in northern Michigan.

Also, WGFN was made the flagship of The Bear stations, even though most of their operations are in Cheboygan, partially due to Traverse City being the biggest city in northern Michigan.

Unfortunately, the deal between Calibre and Reynolds failed, though a new company, Northern Star Broadcasting, was formed to take over Reynolds' stations. Although no longer owner, Reynolds remained as the station's engineer.

Recent News

For a time, The Bear experimented with an updating of its classic-rock playlist to include more hit AOR and alternative rock tracks from the 1980s and 1990s, from artists such as White Zombie, Alice in Chains, Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden, Live, Stone Temple Pilots and Depeche Mode. The Bear has since dropped most of those artists and returned to the straightforward classic rock format it aired previously.

In September 2009, 105.1 dropped out of the Bear simulcast and started simulcasting a Mainstream Rock format with WJZJ 95.5 out of Traverse City called Real Rock 105.1/95.5. 105.1 still carries Bob and Tom while 95.5 carries Free Beer and Hot Wings.

In February 2010, Northern Star Broadcasting fired staff and sold off all of their stations in the Sault Ste. Marie, Marquette, and Iron Mountain areas to Sault Ste. Marie company Sovereign Communications, except for WIHC. It wasn't part of the sale to ensure that Sovereign's ownership concentration in the area did not exceed FCC limits. With Northern Star are looking to exit the radio business, industry insiders didn't expect WIHC to continue.[1] The station eventually would stop broadcasting on February 23, 2010, though WGFN and WCKC are still broadcasting.


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